Shakespeare had written many plays which affected the audience of the Elizabethan era. His play Hamlet had the greatest effect on this audience. There are many important themes which lead to this great effect on the audience. This is demonstrated by Claudius’ speech in act IV scene V, the speech begins with “O, this is the poison of deep grief,” the passage summarizes what is happening at that particular point. Claudius, the king of Denmark, is reflecting on some of the events that have taken place.
The way Claudius expresses this actions affect the Elizabethan audience by showing what a king does affects the authority, humanity, and inefficacy. The king in the Elizabethan era is in a great position of power, respect, and authority. With the authority that the king has in the Elizabethan era he can take control over people’s lives. To have authority as a king you need to be ready to deal with anything. In this speech Claudius says “When sorrows come, they come not single spies”, “But in battalions. and near the end he says “O my dear Gertrude, this,”, “Like to a murdering piece, in many places”, “Gives me superfluous death. ” (Hamlet, 4. 5. 50-51, 69-72).
These lines tell us that Claudius cannot handle all of this at once and he is starting to get overwhelmed. This affects the Elizabethan audience in a drastic way because the audience questions his ability to be a king. In today’s society we do not view this as anything special because we all understand that people are not perfect. In the Elizabethan era the citizens view the king as demigod. Wikipedia contributors) When they see a king unprepared do something, they would start to question whether he is fit to be king. Elizabethan audience looks upon authority in the same way they look upon humanity. Humanity is a virtue that is respected everywhere, but it is a virtue that a king does not need. If a king has this virtue then he becomes to forgiving. Claudius expresses this with his concern for Polonius’s death, using these lines express those concerns.
“Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers”, “For good Polonius’ death, and we have done but greenly”, “In hugger-mugger to inter him”. Hamlet, 4. 5. 56-59) This tells us that Claudius cares too much for Polonius. He cares what other people think of him and he is worried about how Polonius was buried. In the Elizabethan era the audience. In today’s society we think this is a humble act for a person to care so deeply about his friend. But this has a greatly affects the audience in the Elizabethan era because a king should be a powerful, merciless ruler of the land which upholds the law. To see a king show that kind of emotion to a single individual show the Elizabethan society the he is not the right person to be king.
Much like humanity the audience of the Elizabethan era thinks the same way about inefficacy. Inefficacy is the incapability to achieve a desired effect. Claudius is becoming increasingly unsuccessful at being a king; he seems to fail time and time again. These lines depict Claudius’ inefficacy “O my dear Gertrude, this,”, “Like to a murdering piece, in many places”, “Gives me superfluous death. ” (Shakespeare, 4. 5. 69-71) Claudius is feeling all of the mistakes that he has made pile up on him and that make him feel useless.
In today’s society it is not big a problem because we know how mistakes pile up and take their toll on a person. The audience in the Elizabethan era is affected by this because it is discomforting for them to view a king in such disposition, a king should be confident in the choices he makes even if it is the wrong choice. Inefficacy, humanity, and authority are traits that can define the traits of Claudius which has devastating effects on an audience from Elizabethan era. A ruler needs to demonstrate confidence in the actions that he makes. In today’s society showing these emotions is a good thing.
January 9, 2018
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